Growth in juvenile plaice Pleuronectes platessa based on otolith daily growth rings

Master Thesis subject (30 ECTS)
Estuaries and shallow coastal systems are key habitats for many organisms and function as nurseries for flatfish where the trade-off between growth and survival is related to the abundance of food resources, predation levels and favorable environmental conditions. Habitat quality features thus have the potential to influence recruitment levels. Growth is a proven index to asses habitat quality. We will assess juvenile growth over a small spatial scale based on the analysis of daily growth rings in otoliths of juvenile plaice Pleuronectes platessa. We analyze inter-annual variation in growth and intra-annual variation in individual growth by following different settling cohorts from the Belgian part of the North Sea. This so-called 'realized' growth will be compared with the potential growth based on a Dynamic Energy Budget Model (DEB), which predicts maximum possible growth in relation to temperature and fish size. The combination of individual growth (otoliths) and population growth (DEB) will provide an unbiased growth analysis.
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Ilse Maertens, KULeuven (Filip Volckaert)
Reference Number: RP-47861